Why Attribution Might Pay Off This Time Around

Good News For John Wanamaker!

Why I have high hopes for attribution and predictive modeling this time around.

The classic statement and question, “half of my advertising is wasted…but I don’t know which half?” This quote is commonly credited to John Wanamaker, a retail merchant and today is hailed as one of the founding fathers of retail. It really does not matter who said it, rather that marketers are able to answer this question.

For those not so familiar with the concept of attribution, below are a few general approaches from simple to advanced:

  • Last click/action – this is probably the most common and easy to calculate (except it really doesn’t provide value to answering the question of waste)
  • Rules based – picking a weighting level or scheme across touch points (even, position based, time decay)
  • Algorithmic/Probabilistic modeling – defines weighting across touch points at each individual event level, completely data driven

Back in 2008-2009, the rage was attribution and that it would be able to answer this simple yet complex question. The idea of giving credit to each touch point along the consumers decision path to making a purchase would allow us as marketers to invest appropriate to lead to stronger conversions. Unfortunately many tried and failed (especially in digital channels) or found that these models were not very helpful.

Fast forward to 2011-2012 and the landscape has changed dramatically and this is mainly due to advancement in cookie technology and our ability to collect large amounts of data quickly and leverage algorithms to analyze this information quickly.

A few weeks ago Forrester issued two new wave reports that map out the landscape of both digital and cross-channel (digital and offline) attribution providers.

Over the past several weeks I have been involved in investigating a wide variety of partners for attribution for my clients. I believe that with the advancement in technology and the speed and data connections that were not available 3-5 years ago, this time around marketers will actually be able to answer this question. I suspect that brands will also turn to their agencies and expect leadership and competency in this area.

Have questions about attribution, comment on this post and let’s start a conversation. You can also find me on twitter @drewmckenzie.

Finding People In Crowds Is Hard

Alec Painter and I are attending SXSW, representing Empower. We hope to provide a few more posts over the weekend to provide some insight for those who are not in Austin.

Probably the biggest pre-SXSW Interactive festival trend was that social discovery services such as Highlight and Glancee were going to break out in wide adoption. Meaning that later in 2012 you would see brand marketers using these tools to further drive engagement for their products and services.

We wanted to truly put the services through a test in the perfect petri dish that is Austin during SXSW. Last night we tried to connect with at least ten people using Highlight and Glancee (we know there are many moreScreen shot of Highlight) but for the purposes for our homework, we chose just two.

The responses were mixed as expected, everything from no response, to fun dialogues (think SMS conversation) to people actually trying to physically meet up based on our close proximity.

Crowds make it tough, out of the twenty people we reached out to, only one wanted to meet had a lot in common with Alec via mutual friends and interests, the only problem is that we couldn’t track him down in a large crowd. This proves that these services do provide value but physical obstacles (that have always been around) still exist.

Lauri Schwartz, Chief Technology Catalyst at McCann Worldgroup was one of many who carried on a nice dialogue with us. When we asked her to weigh-in on her thoughts of these types of services she replied, “a bit stalkery at first but love the concept of applying intelligent layers on top of a person’s Facebook social graph.” We too share her concerns around the “stalking nature” of these services. People have even been adding us as contacts without our being able to confirm like you can on LinkedIn or Facebook. This underlying concern makes us wonder if these services can ever reach mass scale beyond early tech adopters. People come from around the world to connect and share at SXSW, the same is true for any other event. Outside of this context, is there value when we are sitting at home or out at a bar?

From the value we experienced last night and given the opt-in decision a person makes to share their location and interests with others, we think these services and the technology they employ has a very promising future.

Crystal Ball: Expected Trends Coming Out of SXSW Interactive

Ok boys and girls, its that time again. What has become for many the annual migration to Austin, TX to escape from the office for a few days to catch up with old friends while making new ones over great conversations that always start and end at the intersection of science and art.

SXSW Interactive over the past 5 years as evolved to become the dominate force in the U.S. of bringing creative thinkers across technology, design and marketing. We have seen the likes of Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare ‘be the next hot thing’ only to really wait another year or so before truly hitting hockey stick trajectories of use and adoption. Last year specifically we saw FourSquare pull away from the pack and GroupMe dominate the on-going theme that group texting and sharing hit mainstream.

As I look out over the past year combining that with the onslaut of startup releases prior to this years festival, a few key trends emerge from my vantage point before even setting foot on Congress Street. Here we go:

People Discovery Via Apps

With releases of Highlight, Glancee, Sonar, Kismet and Ban.jo. Not only will these four duke it out for adoption and scale but it would seem that the VC crowd is all-in for this trend so look for continued entrances and funding to follow. My hunch is that while I might use these services every once-in-a-while, but I think I will keep my settings private for awhile. It is bad enough when people stock you based on FourSquare check-ins.

Content Marketing

I suspect Content Marketing will be even a more bastardized term than social media in the coming few years. It is clear from the likes of not only our clients at Empower but heavy hitters like P&G and Coke have already signaled that content marketing (publishing and distribution) is going to be a huge priority. The only point I would like to make is that when hasn’t content mattered or been the number one priority? I think if you survey agencies you would see that we have been arguing this since the early days of Google but clients didn’t care. We weren’t calling it content marketing but that is exactly what we were pushing. Now that Google’s best the farm on social search they in turn have forced brands to change their focus. I think this is a positive evolution for brands and their agency partners that serve them and the ultimate winner is the consumer but it is going to be just sad that we have to add another buzzword to our vocabulary.

Look for more posting from me during and after SXSW!

In Austin for the festivities? You can track me down via @drewmckenzie

Understanding the Media Mix: Lessons from Personal Finance

paid earned and owned media

I spend a lot of time thinking about paid, owned and earned media and how to best plan, invest and optimize our clients dollars. A fellow Empower colleague, Alec Painter, put together a great analogy the other day for paid, earned and owned media that I would like to share with you all today. Below are Alec’s thoughts which I fully endorse.

The Evolving Media Mix

Over the past year or so I have seen a lot of discussion about the media mix and the changing nature of investments made in paid, earned and owned media. As marketers and advertisers, it is important for us to understand these changing tides and the unique value that each media brings. These concepts are complex and often times understanding them means hitting a moving target. It’s easier to use a simple analogy to get at the heart of the matter. This time, I chose something simple that most Americans should be able to understand: personal finance.

Paid Media

Think of paid media as your walking around money. I know that money in my budget will buy the tank of gas that is going to get me to work in the morning. It will also buy the cereal that I eat before leaving. That walking around money also buys the clothes that I wear and pays my utilities. It even got my dog the rawhide thing she is destroying on my carpet right now.

Paid media behaves much in the same fashion. If an advertiser spends this much they know that they will get that much in return. I can execute a multi-million dollar TV buy and expect to get X impressions and reach. I can pay for a contextual targeting display campaign paired with some paid search that will likely yield Y visits to my website. Like my walking around money, I know what I can get for it and it serves a distinct purpose. I can use it almost immediately and it is infinitely scalable (unfortunately, my paycheck is not).

Earned Media

When I look at earned media, I start to think of investment, but more smaller investments. It reminds me most of the money I set aside in my 401k or my yearly contributions to a Roth IRA. I cannot predict what is going to happen to the funds I have invested those accounts in. Like paid media, it could be infinitely scalable and I could be wealthy beyond my wildest dreams in ten years. It is also unfortunately unpredictable and the markets could tank tomorrow and I could lose all of my investments.

That is why of these investment accounts when I relate this analogy to media. Earned media is hard to predict, but you make the investment predicated on the assumption that if you manage the investment appropriately, it will yield something greater than the expense I incurred in that investment. If I manage my social media channels in the right way, craft good consumer experiences with engaging content, if I listen carefully and respond in the right way, I will stimulate word of mouth conversations that are practically priceless and worth much more than the money I invested in the exercise.

Owned Media

The last part of the media mix has been all the rage recently as I see an explosion of interest surrounding new(er) tactics like content marketing. It’s likely the hardest to fit into this analogy, and some people might disagree, but I see owned media almost the same way I see a mortgage. You take a huge investment in a down payment on a home and then take out a sizable, secured loan.

And for what?

For starters, you get the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of home ownership and the cost efficiencies of not paying rent. But, more importantly, you also build up your personal equity. Your timely payments mean that one day you can borrow against the equity you have built. And the occasional room addition or kitchen facelift will increase that personal equity and the value of that asset.

I see owned media as highly similar. It is typically a sizable investment up front, and while most brands have enough marketing dollars that they don’t need a bank loan, they are usually borrowing that money from other places in their marketing budget. But once you make the investment in owned media, it is yours to do with what you want. Your level of control is 100%. It could take awhile to scale, but sustained owned media engagement has the potential to build enormous brand equity, customer relationships, and can even start to yield earned media.

Heck, you can even choose to start to monetize your owned media investment (timeshares anyone?).

Managing Assets and Balancing Your Portfolio

So great. We have all of these analogies that help us understand how these types of media behave and some of the intricacies within. What do we do now? We have our marketing budgets. We have our business goals and objectives for the year. Which type of media do we invest in?

The answer: all of them. Assuming that everything is managed appropriately, the best use of my money is to contribute to my investment accounts, build up my personal equity, and still be able to pay my bills and keep my dog well stocked in rawhide. The same goes for your marketing dollars. Use your paid media appropriately, put some of your marketing budgets toward earned media, have the long-term view to invest in the right owned media, and your ultimate payoff will be larger than if you had chosen to stick with just one.

::By Alec Painter

Understand First, Then Choose Tactics

Suspended Account

I feel there are some people out there that thinks just because someone creates a piece of technology, that we should follow them blindly in using it. Case in point is the agency that leveraged LocalResponse technology to power Toyota’s superbowl campaign. Nothing against Local Response, I put fault on the agency. There have been countless articles about #cameryeffect and the spam issues that resulted in using a technology platform to send out automated tweets in a platform designed for short but human conversation.

You can read more about it, via Real Time Report.

Words of advice – understand the platform, in this case Twitter, then select the best tactics to maximize the platform for the brand.

A Flux State of Mind



Recently FastCompany’s Robert Safian coined ‘Generation flux’ in an article that highlights a few very successful people and how they stay out in front when technology continues to change our world faster than anyone can record it. I would highly enourage you to read Safian’s piece but I have a few thoughts.

Not sure if generation is really the right term, given that his premise is that it covers people from every age and industry to me it feels more like a state of mind.

Let’s take for example one of the icons that he identies in this generation, Bob Greenberg. I only know Bob through the accomplishments of R/GA and the work his agency produces but I suspect that Bob wouldn’t classify himself as living in a different generation than the people he grew up with. My hunch would be that he simply sees the world differently than most.

Safian’s example and quote of Danah Boyd, is probably a better example. Her answer around ‘not being afraid’ supports my theory, Flux is a state of mind, rather than anything that ties us to a specific generation.

No matter how you slice it. More people need to embrace Flux to be successful in this new environment that is every changing based on advancing technology.

Image credit: Stephani92 


Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Klout Perks Event

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Leverages Klout Perks

For the record, I don’t have a ton of faith in Klout, while I have no doubt that they have advanced the conversation about influence in general. Professionally I think their are better ways to find and measure influencers. With that said I found it extreamly refreshing to see a local non-profit here in Cincinnati leverage Klout’s platform to identify people who would be appropriate to invite to one of their biggest events of the year.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Klout Perks Event

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of Cincinnati’s great treasures and over the past several seasons have been making huge strides in courting the almost un-catchable young professionals demographic. This year’s season boasted the world’s best and this past weekend didn’t disappoint.

Heralded as the ‘hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times, Lang Lang has played sold-out recitals and converts in every major city in the world. If you tuned in with the 4 billion who watched the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Beijing – you were treated to his talents. This was his first time in Cincinnati and you could tell that the crowd was ready. With a packed house at Cincinnati’s famous Music Hall – he received a standing ovation, and then after his encore – another ovation. What impressed me was how many young musicians were in attendance. Let’s hope this level of attendance continues for future performances.


Back to the CSO, by leveraging Klout’s perks platform to identify and invite several people in Cincinnati to get a view into what they have been up to.

My wife and I were treated to a short talk with from assistant conductor, William White. He talked about the upcoming renovation plans for Musical Hall. They will be closing after next season for a 16 month renovation to many areas of the hall, including reducing seating to make it more intiment. After William’s talk we attended the pre-concert chat with guest conductor, Jun Markl. Jun talked with such passion about the program of the evening and gave some insight into his upbringing and how it has impacted his journey.

Post concert, we were invited to a backstage tour of music hall. Unfortunately we didn’t stay – it had been a very taxing week but I hope to go back and get a tour soon before they rennovate Music Hall.

Thanks again to the staff at the CSO for a job well done this weekend, I hope more people in our region experience the CSO at Music Hall, it truly is a treasure.

A few more photos from the performance and Music Hall:

Lang Lang at CSOGrand Chandelier at Cincinnati Music Hall


My Customers Aren’t Digitally Savvy…BULLSHIT!

I have been working in some capacity in advertising for what seems, and feels, like the better part of a decade, all my experience comes from midwestern agengies and clients (for the most part).

There is one common thread I can connect throughout my experience. Many midwestern based brands feel that their consumers are not technically savvy, leaving them with the opinion that they shouldn’t be first in their category with digital initiatives.

When you look at smart phone adoption rates over December 2011 along, in my estimation the equivalent of ~11% of the U.S. population activated some iOS or Android device. More data on this thanks to my friends at Flurry. You will find another graph below of the same study.

The argument that ‘our/my consumers are not using digital technology is over’, brand marketers who subscribe to this thinking need to reconsider their position because your competition is already ahead of you.


Flurry Holiday Activation Study Graph 2011










Interested in more information on this topic, contact me.

An Unwavering Will To Do Good For All

The champagne bottles have been recycled, my alma mater won their bowl game and today I find myself back at my desk, rested and ready to tackle 2012. Ok maybe not the rested part, thanks Beale Street.

Before we all cut out for the holidays, Empower (my employer) hosted our annual holiday breakfast. We used this time to reflect on the successes, challenges of the past year but most importantly look ahead to the coming new year.

During my visits with family and friends during this long break, I kept coming back to our collective purpose that our President/CEO laid out for us as we think about the years ahead. Our purpose: “Unwavering Will To Do Good For All”.

At first blush this might seem a bit odd for an advertising and media agency to think about such a high order purpose,but if you distill it all down, that is exactly what we strive for. For those of you who know about Empower, it has always been a family owned company with those same values. But beyond that we want what is best for our clients, their consumers, the agency, our families and our community.

I would argue that we are not different from most, many companies would tell you they have similar or even the same values, but do they live them?

Examples that shine are always the community service projects but when I think about truly living “Unwavering Will To Do Good For All” – shouldn’t we be just as passionate about community service drives as we are for the work we do everyday for our clients? ABSOLUTELY!

As I reflected on all the meetings, recommendations, successes and failures of 2011 – multiple examples of “Unwavering Will” kept coming to mind. All of them were examples of how passionate our entire team is for our clients and their success. Our teams get emotional and deeply disappointed when our clients disregard our advice and fail. While we certainly don’t expect to win all the time, we consistently get back up and fight the next battle each and every day on behalf of our client’s consumers. I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Here is to 2012 and to another year of Unwavering Will To Do Good For All.

What will you do to show your unwavering will in 2012?

In case you thought Jeff Bezos was crazy in 1994

He wasn’t – to confirm this check out the infographic below.


Amazon Coupons

Source: Frugaldad.com


It's the right thing to do